A New Idea for a Birthday Party: Get Moving!

Looking for a new idea for a birthday party? Whether it’s a party for a boy or a party for a girl, there’s one thing that all kids like to do—move. Even if they spend their time in front of video games, getting kids moving with a great birthday game is a fun way to celebrate a birthday. Luckily, there are plenty of resources in Central Maryland that will help you plan a party that encourages kids to get up and at ‘em—whether it’s a sports-themed fete or a dance-based blast, there are plenty of local resources that will help kids shake, rattle and roll their way to a good time.

The trick is making the activities age-appropriate. For very young kids, especially those under five, consider hiring a clown or entertainer who knows how to get children up on their feet. Popular children’s performer Tracey Eldridge and her Music-n-Motion show has been entertaining children, primarily those aged 2 to 5, for several years. “At my birthday parties I play guitar and/or banjo and sing, incorporating lots of movement to music: dancing, arm motions to fit various songs, dramatic play. I don't keep kids sitting for more than a couple of minutes at a time,” said Eldridge in an email statement. She uses percussion instruments “for keeping the beat” and “freeze dancing.”

She also uses “parachute play, and sometimes hula dancing complete with costumes, a follow-the-leader rock’n’roll dance and a “how low can you go” dance. This last dance is similar to the limbo, “but the kids don't have to keep their heads back.” Her shows also entail an “imaginary safari, expressive dancing with ribbons or scarves, and marching in parade fashion,” says Eldridge. For more information visit her website, traceyeldridge.com, or call 410-340-0492.

Here is a round-up of a few places worth considering:

1. Laurel Golf (Laurel) – Adult guests can hit a bucket of balls while birthday revelers play unlimited mini-golf, or spend up to one hour in the softball and baseball batting area. The festivities take place in their mini golf pavilion picnic area, and they provide a soda and goodie bag gift. At extra cost, the center will provide pizza and a golf lesson by their PGA pro. (Laurelgolfcenter.com; 301-725-4646)

2. Skatezone Roller Skating (Crofton) – Skating never gets old. I loved it as a kid, and it is still popular — with or without a disco ball. A live DJ spins tunes while your guests skate (or try to) to their heart’s content. Pizza, beverages, and candy are available for purchase. (sk8zone.com; 410-721-7155)

3. Reverie Farm & Tack (Pasadena) or Equilibrium Horse Center (Gambrills) – If your birthday boy has his heart set on a pony, but your condo association has rules regarding large pets, and then this is the place. Reverie offers pony rides for parties, and Equilibrium will set you up with a tour of their space. Be prepared to provide the party fixins, but if you have a horse loving-child in your household, check them out. (Best for ages 6 and up.) (reveriefarm.com; 410-544-0644. Equilibriumhorse.net; 410-721-0885)

4. Pump It Up (Owings Mills, Glen Burnie, and Elkridge) – A magical space filled with giant inflatables for the bouncing enjoyment of all. They provide staff, pizza, goodie bags, invitations, balloons, and a variety of party packages. (pumpitupparty.com; 1-866-977-5867)

5. Columbia Association's Sports Park and the Swim Center (Columbia) – The park offers multiple birthday party options, including basketball, cheerleading, indoor swim, Splashdown (the Center’s giant slide), roller skating, moon bounce, karate, and gym and swim. Sports Park parties can include rounds of mini-golf, swing time in the batting cages or skating boarding fun. CA parties include set up and clean up, a birthday cake, food and beverages, invitations, paper products and a private party area. Costs differ for CA members, CA residents (with card), and CA non-members. (columbiasportspark.org; 410-715-3054. Swim center, 410-730-7000. Member Services Center, columbiaassociation.net; 410-730-1801)

6. Kids First Swim Schools (Severna Park and other locations) – The pools are kept warm and inviting, and parties goers have two hours to splash around under the watchful eye of a lifeguard. They offer an online party invitation which can be customized for your event. Decorations and food are up to you. The staff handles clean-up. (kidsfirstswimschools.com; 410-384-7946 [Severna Park location])

7. Crofton Bowling Center – Party reservations are for 2 hours of lane time and include shoe rentals, a private party table, set-up and clean-up, and even a decorated bowling pin for the birthday child. Just bring the cake - food and beverages are available onsite. Costs range from one lane for $50 for six people up to four lanes and 24 people. (croftonbowl.com; 410-721-2401 or 301-261-6670)

8. Soccer Dome (Harmans) – This indoor soccer site holds nothing but fun for the budding Beckhams in your household. Parties are provided one hour of field time on the Junior field, a referee, a party space with up to three tables, paper products, pizza and unlimited beverages. The large field and a coach are available at extra cost. A free t-shirt awaits the birthday child. (soccerdome.com; 443-755-0014)

9. Anne Arundel County South County Recreation Center (Harwood) – Is there a gymnast in your house? Consider this place for gymnastic birthday parties for children aged 4 and up (they provide a party room and an instructor). Or if you simply want a gym for the kids to run around, play ball, or shoot some hoops, don’t overlook your local public rec center. It’s likely you’ll have to provide most amenities, but they have party rooms, and plenty of activity space. (aacounty.org; 410-222-1515)

It’s always a good idea to ask other parents about their experiences and for recommendations. Call or visit the website of any place you are considering for a party, and many let you book online. More importantly, visit the place beforehand. Make sure the option you choose is the best fit for your age group. If you can, try to observe other birthday parties. Call ahead as soon as possible, and make sure you know exactly what is (and isn’t) included.

And, most of all—have fun!

By Deeanna Franklin Campbell